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MySpace Verdict a Danger To Depressed Kids 502

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-need-no-more-reasons dept.
Slashdot regular Bennett Haselton summarizes his essay this way: "Debate over the Lori Drew verdict has focused overwhelmingly on whether the ruling was technically correct, but there is another serious issue: the perverse incentives that this ruling creates for victims of online harassment." Read on for his essay.

Since a jury convicted Lori Drew of three misdemeanors for harassing Megan Meier on MySpace and causing her to commit suicide, most of the debate has focused on the question of whether proper legal procedure was followed in an attempt to punish someone for their obviously evil actions, when it wasn't clear that an actual crime had been committed. Emily Bazelon has argued that the rule of law is too important to convict someone for a crime for what was essentially a violation of the MySpace Terms of Service. Anne Mitchell has argued that the slippery slope is nowhere near as dangerous as the backlash is making it sound, because the doctrine of prosecuting people for violating a site's TOS is almost certainly only going to be used against people who commit horrific acts in the process, as Lori Drew did.

I'm more inclined toward the rule of law argument, but hang on — both sides seem to be assuming that it was a desirable outcome to punish Lori Drew publicly and severely. Hell yes she deserved it, but there is more at stake here. What about the consequences for kids who are current victims of harassment and who hear about the case and the verdict?

When anti-cyber-bullying laws were proposed in response to the original news of Megan Meier's suicide, I argued that the laws would be a terrible idea, especially if the criminal provisions of the law were conditional on the bullying victim harming themselves — because then you've created told victims of harassment: You can have your tormentors publicly vilified and even arrested, but only if you make it look like you tried to injure or kill yourself (and at which you might succeed in the process, intentionally or not).

What would be true of a cyber-bulling law is also true for the pseudo-caselaw created by the verdict. Surely there are other Megan Meiers out there who should not be led to believe that they can ruin their harasser's lives by committing suicide.

Now you might argue that by my reasoning, existing harassment laws which are contingent on the victim showing signs of emotional distress, could lead to the same problem — victims either consciously faking distress, or trying to fake distress so convincingly that they actually harm themselves, or subconsciously absorbing the fact that they can only get justice if they actually show harm. I had actually assumed that existing harassment laws governed only the conduct of the harasser, and did not depend on how the victim felt, but I was wrong — here in Washington State for example, RCW 10.14 states that harassing conduct is conduct that

"shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress,
and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner." [emphasis added]

Reading that literally means that no matter how bad the harassment is, you still have to feel distressed in order to have them prosecuted, and the more distressed you "act," the more likely you are to succeed! But hang on — in order for that law to create incentives for victims of harassment to fake distress in order to have their personal enemies prosecuted, they would have to actually know that the law says that. I doubt that most people walking around Washington know the exact wording of the harassment law. More likely, they already realize that if they were to ever try and have someone prosecuted for harassment who didn't actually deserve it, a little tears and shaking would probably influence the judge, whether or not their feelings had any technical relevance under the law. And even if they were to exaggerate the effects of the harassment, all they would have to do would be to claim that they threw up or lost sleep from anxiety — they wouldn't have to show evidence of trying to harm or kill themselves.

On the other hand, everybody has heard about the Lori Drew and Megan Meier case, and it seems likely that the fact that Megan killed herself did contribute to the conviction. (At one point Judge George H. Wu had said that he would probably exclude evidence from the trial that Megan Meier had committed suicide as a result of the harassment, but later changed his mind and did allow it to be mentioned, saying "It's impossible to get a jury that doesn't know.") If Megan Meier had merely lost sleep, or suffered from panic attacks, or cut herself as a result of the harassment she endured from Lori Drew, would Drew have been convicted? Or even arrested?

These perverse incentives — "rewarding" Megan Meier for her suicide by vicariously exacting her revenge on Lori Drew — have been present ever since the wall-to-wall coverage of the case first started. Many news outlets have a policy of not publishing the names of suicide victims, not only to protect the privacy of grieving families but to avoid "rewarding" suicides by giving them the attention they may have wanted. The Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles does not list any policy against printing the names of suicides. Maybe they should. (They do have a policy against printing the names of sexual assault victims, for example.) But it's a slippery journalistic slope to go down once you start deciding not to publish certain elements of a story, even for what seem to be compelling reasons. For example, take the policy of not publishing the names of alleged rape victims. If the rationale is that the AP doesn't want to cause unfair embarrassment to the alleged victims in case their story is true, why wouldn't the AP also avoid publishing the name of the defendant, to avoid causing them vastly greater unfair embarrassment in case the victim's story is false? So any decision to leave someone's name out of a story can lead to sticky "but-then-what-about" scenarios.

Perhaps the story should not have been covered at all, or anywhere near as much as it was. (I realize I may be contributing to the problem here, but my penance is that I'm calling for less coverage in the future, and I would never be writing about this if the mainstream media hadn't covered it so extensively.) What about all the other people who committed suicide during the same year, also as a result of vicious harassment, but with the only difference being that their suicides did not involve the Internet? Don't they deserve the same justice, and don't their tormentors deserve the same vilification?

Defenders of Internet civil liberties have for years been disgusted with the fact that crimes involving the Internet — from simple identity theft to rape and murder — have always gotten disproportionately more attention than the same or similar crimes committed without the aid of a computer. In the Megan Meier case, the effect of the coverage is even worse: Leading potential suicides to believe that they can have the sympathy they always wanted, and revenge on those they hate, if they kill themselves.

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MySpace Verdict a Danger To Depressed Kids

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  • by onion2k (203094) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:54PM (#26135657) Homepage

    Leading potential suicides to believe that they can have the sympathy they always wanted, and revenge on those they hate, if they kill themselves.

    Suicidal people, by the very nature of being suicidal, aren't really in a position to make rational judgements regarding what may or may not happen should they top themselves. Suicidal people have, since time began, justified wilfully idiotic acts with spurious reasoning that only makes sense in their own heads. Whatever the outcome of this people will continue to think suicide is their best option - either for their own sake or because they misguidedly believe it'll make someone else feel bad, or even get punished. That isn't some new and exciting insight. It's just been made a little more concrete by this particular case. Using Megan's suicide as a rallying cry of "oh how terrible, everyone will be bumping themselves off for revenge now!" is pretty small minded and it devalues the good that came from Megan's too short life in my opinion. Shame on you.

  • Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:57PM (#26135699)
    Since I have insurance I have every motivation to leave the keys in the ignition of my car when I go into a supermarket shopping, right?
  • Identity theft. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Samschnooks (1415697) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @02:59PM (#26135735)

    Defenders of Internet civil liberties have for years been disgusted with the fact that crimes involving the Internet â" from simple identity theft ... have always gotten disproportionately more attention than the same or similar crimes committed without the aid of a computer.

    I am a big civil libertarian and I have to disagree with them on this one. Then again, I don't see how civil liberties are directly affected when things are publicized other than the over-reaction by policy makers and the hysterical members of the public who enable them.

    When internet identity theft scams are publicized, it puts its cause into the public's mind; such as phishing schemes. I don't know of anyone who trusts emails from their bank or eBay anymore asking to "verify personal information" or anything like that. Phishing schemes have become much less successful because of the publicity.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:02PM (#26135789) Homepage

    At every turn, it seems, people would like to cushion, candy-coat or otherwise render harmless the world we live in. It would be easier to "air condition the planet" than it would be to make everything in the world "safe." The fact is, no matter what is done, some people can handle it and others will not be able to handle it. There will always be people with emotional problems -- it can't be eliminated without extreme and unpleasant measures. [read: extermination] So if we shouldn't go to one extreme [extermination of unfit people] to solve the problem and we can't reasonably go to the other [make the world out of marshmallows so no one gets hurt], then it stands to reason that we have to accept that some problems cannot be "solved." They have to be managed and accepted. Regrettable and tragic things will happen. It is okay to feel sad about it or take some sort of lesson from it -- whatever enables you to deal with it. But there is no escaping it. All of life is suffering.

  • by snowgirl (978879) * on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:04PM (#26135807) Journal

    Don't blame the parents or doctors for putting the girl on dangerous SSRI and anti-psychotic drugs.

    From the third grade Megan had been under the care of a psychiatrist. She had been prescribed Celexa, Concerta and Geodon

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Meier [wikipedia.org]

    The FDA and other bodies have found that SSRI medications cause increased suicide and agression in people under the age of 24.
    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/06/briefing/2006-4272b1-01-FDA.pdf [fda.gov]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ssri#Adverse_effects [wikipedia.org]
    http://ssristories.com/ [ssristories.com]

    Blame someone else, its the [new] American way!

    Blaming SSRIs is so stupid. What are they supposed to do? Let her live out her life in misery?

    SSRIs can also cause liver damage, but you don't see people suggesting that this risk means they shouldn't be used. It's an ADVISEMENT that the doctors should consider the person's state before prescribing them.

    Actually, the presumption on SSRIs here is that people will come out of a deep depression, and begin rationalizing suicide. Not that SSRIs actually cause the suicidal intents on its own.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:05PM (#26135815)

    Now if people that are suicidal wear a name tag, so that no one may ever tease them, make fun of them, then ok. Otherwise are we going to throw in jail ever kid that ever teased someone if the follow up reaction was negative.

    If lori here was guilty, then US is guity of 9/11 bombings. Sure moronic terrorists did that, but the US actions else where caused their reactions.

    We can all either assume people are rational beings and have a choice in what they do, and thus punish them for said act. OR we can all blame someone else for our act in which case rational humans, prison sentences can all be thrown out.
    Really I am sure Lori here was screwed up by someone else before. So we cant really punish her.

  • by UncleWilly (1128141) * <UncleWilly07&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:05PM (#26135817)

    This is one of those life lessons, there are consequences for your actions.

  • by Immostlyharmless (1311531) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:09PM (#26135855)
    So....the lesson here is? Don't fuck the underage daughter of local law inforcement when you are old enough to drink?

    Ummmmmm no shit?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:13PM (#26135909)

    Yeah, those rape allegations certainly cause people to sit in their showers trying to get themselves clean...

    No, it takes them the rest of their lives to remove the stigma, that a moment's pique on the part of the person making the accusation, caused.

    Are they worse off? Physically? no Emotionally? Not in the same way, but almost as bad. Reputation? Permanently damaged - because a lot of people will believe it was true regardless...

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:15PM (#26135931)
    SSRIs by themselves are not dangerous, or have not been conclusively shown to be at least. Many of those who had suicide ideation were also on other drugs, just like Megan. Many of them were on seven or more psychoactive drugs at once, and many also had suicide ideation before being put on the drugs (that probably being one of the reasons for going on anti-depression drugs in the first place). I've read some of the surveys where they attempted to correct for past suicide ideation, and they asked if the patient had suicide ideation in the past 30 days. Anything before that was irrelevant, including multiple attempts.

    The apparent correlation between SSRIs and suicide, once again, does not mean causation.
  • Assholes and Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:19PM (#26136001) Journal

    ... punish someone for their obviously evil actions, when it wasn't clear that an actual crime had been committed.

    This is what I call an "ASSHOLE LAW", where someone obviously evil to most people, but clearly within the confines of what is "legal".

    In the old days ... people like this would get their asses kicked, and the law would look away. The assholes would end up being isolated away from the rest of the community.

    Bad cases make worse laws. This case is just another example of ASSHOLE justice, which is really bad for defining what is legal or not legal.

    Assholes always skirt around the edges of what is legal, which is my definition of what an asshole is. Assholes ruin it for everyone else.

    Next Asshole on the list ... Blago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:20PM (#26136011)

    I would not have said "less than a false allegation" but I think you understate the magnitude of what happens to someone who is accused of such a crime. Many people accused of sexual assaults lose their jobs (as they are unable to attend their workplace), and most will spend months suspended from their job while the police and prosecutors decide whether to proceed. In addition they will normally be publicly named (and have the allegation against them permanently recorded in newspapers etc), and there are many people out there who will then choose to believe the worst about them for the rest of their lives.

    In many cases there is simply not enough evidence to either successfully prosecute one party for sexual assault or the other for making false reports. However only one person in that situation ever gets publicly named, only one person is likely to have lost their job and have their neighbors refuse to speak to them etc. Believe it or not, that sort of thing can cause a loss of trust as well...

  • Re:I have to agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:22PM (#26136035)

    If a guy did this to Megan, and given how large the media circus was, he'd be branded a sexual predator regardless of age and be ostracized from society for the rest of his life.

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:24PM (#26136071)

    Suicidal people aren't 100% irrational zombies or something. They seize on things and overemphasize them, downplay contrary evidence, etc., but they do still have thought processes that take into account the external world.

    One of the (many) ways of trying to convince people who are in particular suicidal because of a desire to "get back" at someone is that suicide is not a particularly effective way of getting back at people. Providing a very concrete way in which it arguably actually is a good way of getting back at someone is not very helpful from that perspective.

  • Re:Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:24PM (#26136077)
    Many people have cars. Many people who aren't reasoning at their fullest ability have cars (the clearest evidence being a morning commute). Most people who have cars have insurance. Since insurance will pay for a stolen car, and leaving the keys in the ignition will get my car stolen(ok maybe not my junker but someone's). Easy money is leaving the keys in the ignition.
    And then you say even a moron knows they won't get paid for that. But the article says that using similar reasoning people are going to start KILLING themselves to cause a small fine and/or prison sentance on someone they dislike. Every law is subject to abuse, but really, lets not make a law protecting harrassment victims because someone might make a stupid decision because of it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:32PM (#26136201)

    snowgirl, if you're ok with some guy who was previously in a loving relationship with a girl, with the consent of her family, having his life destroyed because the relationship turns sour, then you're not over whatever it was that happened to you.

    The guy the GP referred to, does not deserve your misplaced anger and wish for retribution. The guy who assaulted you does.

    Best of luck.

  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:34PM (#26136225) Homepage Journal

    This verdict is just another sad example of making an overly-broad law under the guise that it will never be abused, and will only be used when "necessary". Laws are not meant to be used this way, and the old standby comes immediately into play, "that which can be abused, will be abused." Laws open to interpretation will be misinterpreted, or interpreted in a manner that would horrify those that created and supported the overly-broad law.

    Say NO to catch-all laws every chance you get. If they can't define the law in such a way that it cannot be abused/misinterpreted, it's not a good law, I don't care what you're trying to prevent. Find an airtight way to word it or don't put it on the books.

  • by The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:35PM (#26136243) Homepage Journal
    The thrust of the argument here seems to be that the MySpace Verdict creates incentive for bullied kids to "get back" at bullies by harming themselves, thus subjecting the bullies to the force of the law. But, as I understand it, the MySpace Verdict only says that you can't break a website's Terms of Service in order to harass someone. In other words, had the 'Kyle' alias been real, there wouldn't have been a case. Now, for your argument to work the bullied kid would have to know that the bully wasn't real because otherwise there would have been no case.

    I'd like to suggest that:
    1. Such cases are far less plausible than people being bullied by real people, at least insofar as it escalates up to the point of, "Well I'll show them, I'll just kill myself!"
    2. It would be difficult to prove the case against the bully, because presumably if the bullied kid knew they weren't real, it would be more difficult to argue that the bully was the cause of death. The bullied kid would have to hide their knowledge, which would take a pretty devious kid.

    I'm not saying it's a good verdict; it's not. I'm just saying your particular concern about creating incentive for bullied kids to harm themselves seems a little exaggerated when you consider that they would have to know the bully was violating the terms of service before harming themselves in order to bring punishment on the bully.

  • by evanbd (210358) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:39PM (#26136295)
    The charges might also have been dropped because offering them their own tent and then prosecuting them for using it could constitute entrapment.
  • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:41PM (#26136333)

    A whole week? You poor thing. Ever been falsely convicted of a felony? How long do you think it takes to get over that?

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:41PM (#26136335)

    So, because you're a woman, and you've been hurt, it's ok to destroy an innocent man's life?

    All men are pigs right?

    I'm not making light of sexual assault, my best friend was raped and it didn't take her a week to recover, it took her years. About two before she was comfortable hugging close male friends, and another year after that before she could handle dating. Her first boyfriend after that had a tough time, because she had several panic attacks that would be triggered by seemingly benign events, but went back to the rape.

    However, her reputation was not harmed in any way, and since she has healed she can live a normal, and very happy life. A man charged with rape, brought to trial, and then aquitted has no such hope if his name and crime are not protected before a conviction. His reputation is permanently ruined, there will be jobs he cannot get, relationships he cannot have, communities he cannot join, all because he was accused of something he did not do. This is multiplied ten-fold in high-profile cases or small town cases.

    You seem to think the only person who can possibly be severly damaged is the female, apparently men's lives don't matter, innocent or no.

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:46PM (#26136405)

    aren't all teens emotionally unstable?

    This is one of the stereotypes and prejudices that I would like to see die, though the media shows no signs of giving this myth up. I for one only became emotionally distraught after I had to deal with the hypocrisy and craft of the adult workplace. Even with something as emotionally charged as dating; high school is often a friendlier place to meet companions than dance clubs.

  • by kwabbles (259554) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:48PM (#26136449)

    vastly greater unfair embarrassment in case the victim's story is false?

    This is how I see it:

    If an alleged victim's name is published, letting everyone know they may have been raped - the detriment to the victim is that everyone will then know that they'd been raped, which understandably causes a great deal of embarrassment and additional psychological damage to the victim.

    If an alleged attacker's name is published, letting everyone know they may have raped someone - the detriment to the attacker is that they are also embarrassed and publicly humiliated (though not at all to the same extent), BUT, they also typically lose their jobs, their families, their friends, and are presumed guilty of the crime and treated as such (innocent or not). In most countries it stays on their record whether they were convicted or not, and typically they have to live with that shame the rest of their lives - whether they did it or not.

    Do you see the difference?

  • by Leafheart (1120885) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @03:57PM (#26136567)

    It doesn't matter about the person's consent or not,

    Which makes the whole thing completely screwed. If we can held 13 year olds guilty of murder, when we can prove they understood what they were doing. If someone underage can be show to have been acted on his\her free will, consented and had knowledge of the act, NOTHING should be brought against the older person. Be him 16, 20 or 40 years old.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:08PM (#26136735) Journal

    The lesson here is that it shouldn't be illegal for anyone to fuck a 17yr old girl.

  • by ziggy_az (40281) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:21PM (#26136867) Homepage

    Are you kidding me?

    1st - anyone who holds it against a rape victim is probably not someone a rape victim distance themselves from as quickly as possible. This is not one of the warm, compassionate people that a rape victim should have around to help them to heal.

    2nd - for some reason, people don't seem to believe that someone accused of rape, even after acquittal, can be truly innocent (or else they wouldn't have been accused, right?).

    Finally, to claim that a false accusation of such a serious VIOLENT crime is a mere "embarrassment" is utterly ridiculous! Like a rape victim, such an individual will be subjected to public humiliation. Unlike a rape victim, they will probably be shunned by some family members and friends, lose employment opportunities and may even be subjected to violence as a result of those accusations.

    snowgirl, I do not mean to imply that the crime commited against you is trivial. To the contrary, to be violated in such a way (rest assured, this is not beyond my comprehension) is one of the most demeaning things which can happen in your life. I would suggest, however, that to claim that the social rape of an individual with such a false accusation does NOT pale in comparison. With a rape victim, the body will heal and in time, so too will the mind. For those falsely accused of rape, the stigma will never relent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:26PM (#26136951)

    I stand by my position, and refuse to alter it.

    This is a conversation stopper.

    Nobody bother trying to talk to snowgirl. Based on her own words, she is clearly not capable or willing to consider other arguments.

  • I stand by my position, and refuse to alter it.

    A person who refuses to ever change their position is a person who refuses to learn.

    I don't care what he was talking about, to me it says that my pain is less than something else.

    In other words, he hurt your feelings, and damn any logic involved.

    I acknowledge your pain. I acknowledge that, since I am not a rape victim myself, I cannot truly appreciate how much you have been hurt.

    However, the fact that you were hurt is not a get-out-of-debate free card. I will not abandon logic to comfort you, and the point stands.

    Any pain caused by this being pointed out, publicly, is less than that caused by the act itself. But being publicly identified as a victim gives you sympathy. Being publicly identified as a perp makes him hated -- in a small enough town, might even drive him out.

    Certainly, you could make a case that it's deserved -- if he actually did it. So, yes, in your case -- but not every woman who cries rape has actually been raped. And people won't forget he was accused, whether or not he's actually convicted.

    If you still believe anyone accused deserves that, fine -- but I hope, at least, you don't think anyone is automatically a chauvinist pig for daring to suggest it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:41PM (#26137169)

    So, what are you trying to say here? That a person commits statutory rape, (by your own admission you state this to be true) and is then arrested for it, and suffers consequences for it?

    Here's a hint... parental consent to statutory rape does not make it any less illegal.

    The charges were probably dropped because the sheriff could have been brought up on child neglect. However, again... by your own statement, THE CRIME HAPPENED.

    Let this be a lesson to anyone... just because someone is looking the other way when seeing you do something doesn't mean that it wasn't illegal or criminal in the first place.

    Frankly, I think the whole statutory rape thing is crap.

    We've tried 13-year-old kids as adults, claiming that they fully understood the weight of their actions... But somehow there's no possible way a 17-year-old girl could have known exactly what she's doing?

    There was a point in time when it would have been weird not to be raising a family by the age of 17. Just because we've declared that you aren't a real human being until 18 doesn't turn that number into some sort of magical checkpoint. You don't suddenly gain fantastic new mental faculties when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake.

    There is certainly a point at which human beings are not able to fully understand the ramifications of their actions. And if you're still at that point, you aren't going to be able to give informed consent to anything at all. And it should be a crime to do things that would normally require consent. That's fine. I agree with that.

    The problem is that there's no consistency from one human being to the next. Some people are fabulously mature and virtually running a household at 13... Some people can't even take care of themselves at 30... And the law really has no way to allow for this individual variation - you have to pick a number, or establish some kind of test, or something.

    So they picked a number. Fairly arbitrarily, I might add. 18 years old and you can vote, you can have sex, you can go off to war, you can own property... But you can't drink alcohol. And some places won't let you in to sex stores until you're 21. Odd, isn't it? You can legally get married, go to war, kill people, raise a family...but you can't watch porn.

    So, some guy had a relationship with a girl... The relationship went sour and he got accused of statutory rape... I suppose, technically, he did commit a crime. She was, in fact, below the age of 18 when they had sex. But is that actually a crime? Was anyone actually harmed because they had sex? If the relationship hadn't turned sour, would he have still been accused of statutory rape? Would someone have brought it up at their wedding?

    And the consequences? Oh, the consequences! You seem to think there's absolutely nothing wrong with this guy's name and "crime" being publicised because, obviously, he committed the crime. He deserves to be punished, right?

    Except that, technically, he wasn't found guilty of anything. The charges were dropped. So you've technically got an innocent man being punished. You'd probably say that doesn't matter, because he still committed the crime...but I'm not convinced that a crime was actually comitted.

    I don't know these people, I don't know their situation, I have no idea what happened. Maybe she truly was scarred for life, maybe not. I'm not going to make any claims of psychic certainty... Though you are certainly quick to do so - condemning not just the "rapist" but the girl's father as well.

    But from all accounts (which, admittedly, seem to be from the rapist's friend) it was a loving, consensual relationship. The kind of relationship that would normally end in marriage, not accusations of rape. While I'm certain that there was some emotional trauma from the abortion, and the souring of the relationship, I'm not crtain that there's much emotional trauma from the sex itself.

    So, if the girl

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @04:49PM (#26137297) Journal

    The problem results in Political Correctness.

    Should people be allowed to be asshats? Sure why not? But they should expect to be punched in the nose every once in a while when they are.

    Should people grow a spine? Sure, why not? We really shouldn't cater to the whiny sniveling lot either. They should learn to punch people in the nose.

    The world was much more polite when people actually could punch someone without fear of being sued into oblivion.

    I generally agree with your assessment, however the last paragraph is only presenting half the story. The other half of the test should be "should a middle age woman harass a young teenager the way she did?"

    I honestly don't know of ANY adult woman, middle age, that would even think of, let alone bother to execute such a plan. I cannot even comprehend the mind that thinks that was fine, funny, or even remotely okay to do. I know they exist, but I can't imagine a worse excuse for a pathetic piece of womanhood.

  • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:09PM (#26137551)

    What we have here is a relationship between two sexually mature people, who were both obviously capable of consent (confirmed by her father and any reasonable interpretation of consent), only one of the people was barely under the technical legal age of consent. For that "crime," he is lumped in the same category for people who forcibly rape children. As a result, he will be ostracized. At best, he will have to move. At worse it will follow him for the rest of his life. I don't think that's a fair punishment for what happened, and a glib "If you can't pay the time, don't do the crime," doesn't suffice.

    If you think that a 17 year old is capable of understanding sex or consenting, by any interpretation other than the legal one, then you are stupendously naive. If you think destroying a person's life over such an indiscretion is acceptable... well that's far more fucked up than anything that couple did.

  • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:12PM (#26137589)
    They also fall into the "quick fix" category. Everything has to be fixed immediately and nothing can ever actually be anyone's fault. If you're on drugs you're getting fixed quickly and your depression isn't your fault, you've just got a chemical imbalance.

    I feel the same way about parents dragging their kids off to be diagnosed with ADD. Try pulling them away from the TV and the pure sugar juice box and making them run around outside a bit. It's easier to focus when you're not constantly on a sugar high and looking for a way to burn some energy. I feel sorry for those kids... once you get categorized with that kinda of crap teachers practically act like you're special ed. Some of my friends really got screwed by that.
  • by Peter La Casse (3992) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:13PM (#26137603) Homepage

    There is no rational reason for suicide and it goes against the basic idea of self-preservation. So, I would say someone who is suicidal is NOT rational.

    "Rational" and "sane" are not the same, and might be opposites. If someone's goal is to minimize their own gross (not net) discomfort, death might be the only rational solution (depending on one's worldview.) On the other hand, many common human behaviors are irrational.

  • by Drasil (580067) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:16PM (#26137631)
    [blockquote]Seriously, what kind of ASSHOLE CHAUVINISTIC PIG would say that the person alleged of sexual assault should it not be true would be WORSE off than the victim were it true?[/blockquote] I knew someone who took his own life after being falsely accused of rape. He didn't seem to be to be particularly mentally fragile but he lived in a small community which turned against him and after a year or so he couldn't take any more. I think this is a rare example of what you are saying isn't true, and I don't consider myself an asshole, chauvinistic or a pig for saying it.
  • by Zordak (123132) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @05:39PM (#26137955) Homepage Journal

    To summarize this conversation:

    1. Submitter rightly points out that it is inconsistent to, for example, demonize the Duke Lacrosse team while protecting the name of the accuser.

    2. Poster tells cautionary tale of a friend who admittedly committed statutory rape and was charged with statutory rape. Certainly the dad was no hero here, but this has nothing to do with the original story, because the friend was not falsely accused of a crime. He was, rather, charged for a crime that he committed that is rarely prosecuted (which is not a defense).

    3. snowgirl points out that poster's buddy was in fact charged with a crime he admittedly committed, and wonders why he deserves her sympathy.

    4. In response, AC implies that female poster only said what she did because she was raped and hasn't gotten over it.

    5. snowgirl expresses disgust with AC.

    6. McGrew says that snowgirl missed the point: The Duke girl was a stripper and probably a prostitute. This is probably true (and completely irrelevant---if you rape a prostitute, it's still rape). None of this has any bearing on snowgirl's point, which is that the buddy's story is not like the Duke story because the buddy was, in fact, and admittedly, guilty of the charged crime, not innocent, like the Duke Lacrosse players.

    7. Somebody below accuses snowgirl of being ugly and maladjusted, or something along those lines.

    8. [A week from now] Slashdot runs another story bemoaning the mysterious dearth of women in IT.

  • by fishexe (168879) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:12PM (#26138347) Homepage

    Megan Meier was not trying to get back at Lori Drew. Nor could she possible have been. She died *not knowing* that Drew was her harasser. Indeed, the verdict against Drew hinged on her *falsifying* her identity. If she had really been that boy she pretended to be, that boy would have committed no crime and gotten off scott-free. The simple fact was, Megan killed herself because she thought the boy of her dreams had turned on her, and Lori Drew is guilty of creating the delusion that drove her to it. It has nothing to do with getting back at anybody.

    Only in the absurd case that someone is suicidal, being harassed by an imaginary person, KNOWS that their harasser is imaginary, yet simultaneously still believes in the fake person, can this verdict ever provide an incentive to suicide. The only incentive this verdict gives anyone is the incentive NOT to pretend to be someone else in order to push people into killing themselves.

  • by puto (533470) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:26PM (#26138527) Homepage
    When I was 23 and in college I met a girl who was 17 in a class. We were assigned as lab partners and it led to spending a lot of time together.

    She was beautiful, mature, and a good match for me.
    I refused to touch her and date her.

    Her father showed up and my apartment one night with a six pack.

    He said that he had a sad little girl at home because she liked a guy who did not like her back.

    I told the dad it was not the case just the age difference and the law.

    He cracked a beer and said he did not have a problem with the age difference but he laid down some ground rules.

    1. Birth control - he did not want any grandkids just yet.
    2. No drunken debauching outside of my apartment
    3. Treat her well

    He then went on to explain that he was 15 years older than his wife and they had gone through the same thing.

    We finished the six pack and 10 minutes later after he left she showed up with an overnight bag and we ended up dating for 2 years.

    But banging the sheriffs daughter is still a stupid decision unless you plan on marrying her. Daddy can always arrest you.

    Plus he knocked her up.

    Plus an abortion.

    Your friend is a douchebag. The cop trusted the dude and he knocked her up and brought her DR Coathanger. No sympathy whatsoever.
  • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:31PM (#26138593)

    Ah yes, the classic excuse: "X has it worse, therefore you should not complain about Y."

    Your post is less than useless, it is harmful and is ignorant beyond reason.

  • by rocketsci4 (1433235) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:41PM (#26138721)

    All I can say is boo-fucking-hoo. Everyone in Western society is so utterly spoiled. Anyone wanting to committ suicide in a Western country, save a very minute number of cases, should just get it over with because we don't need your cowardly influence any longer. Let me explain.

    This post is either a troll or genuinely ignorant. Either way, it's certainly not "insightful."

    People who are suicidal typically suffer from depression or other mental illness. Even in affluent civilizations, they aren't cowards or somehow morally deficient. They just have a disease which warps all of their perceptions in such a way that suicide appears to be the best alternative. Bullying might act as a catalyst, but the underlying phenomenon is usually illness and almost never a moral failing.

    As for people who are bullied, sure they don't suffer as much as someone being raped, tortured, etc. But they do suffer, and not in a trivial sort of way. "Shut up about X, because at least you're not getting Y like those other people" is morally repulsive when X and Y both involve the victim suffering significantly---even if X is no where near as bad as Y.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:46PM (#26138807)

    Long ago, long before this [if(SSRIs) suicide_risk++;] hit the news, I went to see a shrink, 'cause my family was concerned about my constant glum attitude - I was exhibiting all of the symptoms of clinical depression. The guy that I went to see prescribed Zoloft for me... I tried it. After 3 weeks on the pills, I actually *did* overdose (3 bottles of sleeping pills, 1 bottle of Vicodine, and - the rest of the Zoloft washed down with 2qts of Long Island Iced Teas). Obviously, I lived (don't need to go into details, but it involved intervention), but... here comes the irony...

    I stopped taking the Zoloft, and went back to feeling generally glum and lethargic. Time came around for my every-four-months blood test (college, promiscuity, and part of the sex=AIDS=DEATH generation X)... had the doctor run a full blood workup, while they were poking the needle in. Test results came back -- blood cholesterol was abnormally *low*. I had cut meat out of my diet a couple of months before all of this started, and *that* was what was causing the lethargy... and the SSRIs *did* significantly bring my mood down.

    The shrink told me that they might make me "feel a little racy". I don't know if he was that ignorant about neurochemestry, and actually believed what he said, or if he was hoping to cash in on the placebo effect, but I'd bet that a lot of doctors who are handing these pills out to kids are guilty of both. Serotonin is a "downer" - Dopamine is the brain's "upper". SSRIs cause Serotonin levels to build up (especially during the initial stage - this levels off as the body starts producing less of it, seeking homeostesis)...

    btw - I started eating meat and eggs again, and got to feeling much better. It's not *just* the SSRI issue that brings this rant out in me... Every time that I hear about some new anti-cholesterol treatment, it reminds me of that New-Year's eve... but - when it comes to giving these drugs to kids... Fscking around with the neurochemestry of a developing brain is *not* something that should be taken casually.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @06:54PM (#26138903)

    Dude, I absolutely would. It makes no difference if she's a female rape victim or a male one, or a victim of violence of another kind, of either sex. The response snowgirl gave is symptomatic of someone who is still raging at their own mistreatment (see elsewhere in this thread) and who, as a consequence, has a highly punitive attitude to any slight infraction related to their own experience, in a desire to inflict punishment on those perceived to be members of the same group as those they really have an issue with.

    A man who hates women who wear red, because his cruel stepmother did such that he fantasises about beating them, or a woman who hates young men who sleep with their 17 year old girlfriends (legal in most of the world!) performing a trivial infraction of a local law, and who wishes their lives destroyed for it, because she was raped.

    Neither is over what happened to them.

  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @07:07PM (#26139063) Homepage Journal

    That's what you took from that story?

    Wow.

  • by Zordak (123132) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @07:09PM (#26139095) Homepage Journal

    Snowgirl basically sidestepped the point of the cautionary tale. The point was that the father saw no problem with this relationship.

    The father's approval is not a defense to statutory rape (at least I'm pretty sure it's not in Texas; I don't do criminal law, and your state may vary). It just means the father was complicit.

    The father decided after the fact to explicitly use a relationship he previously approved of to "get back" at the person. This is a demonstration of how accusations of rape can carry serious consequences.

    Actually, I think the Duke lacrosse case is a good demonstration of the fact that false accusations of rape can have serious consequences. The moral of the buddy's story is that reckless sexual behavior with a teenager can have serious consequences, like unwanted pregnancy, abortion (which is frequently emotionally devestating for a woman), and criminal prosecution, especially when her dad is a cop who is not afraid to abuse his power.

    Once again, dad is no hero here. The dad was a jerk. But that's not the point. The buddy wanted to play house with a teenager and wants to complain that it came back to bite him. Sex is not a casual thing. It has serious emotional and physical ramfications, for good or ill. That's not society mistreating you. It's just nature.

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @07:34PM (#26139395)

    From another angle: My impression is simply, you're clearly spitting venom, and I think it's because you're still in pain.

  • by Rycross (836649) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @08:26PM (#26139945)
    Because people don't often care about the details and associate statutory rape with non-statutory rape, sexual assault on a child, and all sorts of other very nasty things. We've had stories of people looking up sex offenders on a list and meting out vigilante justice, only to find out that the person did not actually commit the crime the person thought they did. It can also be that the people in question felt that if charges were brought, then there must be more behind it. A sort-of if-theres-smoke-theres-fire mentality. People do not react rationally to crime, and the effect is several orders of magnitudes more pronounced when the crimes are sexual in nature. Its fairly common to find people who feel that a rape should be punished by torture, rape in prison, death, and a myriad of other extremely savage punishments. Furthermore, its extremely common to simply assume that if a person was accused of rape, he must be a rapist, facts be damned. Which brings us back to the subject at hand...
  • Cyber crime? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vexorian (959249) on Tuesday December 16, 2008 @09:21PM (#26140443)
    If I treat a person badly, in real life, and somehow that makes her take her own life, is it a crime as well? I don't think it is in my country, is it in yours? I am feeling the internet is getting over protective...
  • by WoollyMittens (1065278) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @02:00AM (#26142247)
    The world is a danger to depressed kids. It's not fair to condemn each and every thing in the world, randomly in knee jerk reactions, to protect the children.
  • by Loki_666 (824073) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @07:07AM (#26143503)

    One of my friends had a really gross phrase he liked to come out with:

    "If she is old enough to bleed, she is old enough to breed."

    While this is morally dubious in our society, its perfectly correct from natures perspective. When a girl starts with menstruation it is natures signal that she is ready to start having children. In the old days girls did have kids quite young especially going very far back (cavemen times) when life expectancy was very low and the need to reproduce young was an imperative for the tribe to survive.

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:09AM (#26144547)

    I'd just like to note that in my university there are second years who are 17(started first year at 16).
    You could, in complete sobriety, hook up with a girl in your class when you're 20/21 and suddenly be the same as someone who bundled a 5 year old into a car trunk and raped them.
    all because of idiots who believe that on your 18th birthday a magical fairy drops from the clouds and bestows maturity.
    I can think of 20 year olds who should be considered children and pleanty of under 18's who are more mature mentally than some 40 year olds.

  • by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @10:53AM (#26145115) Journal

    Castration (chemical and/or physical) is recommended by many for sex offenders. Those convicted of statutory rape are considered sex offenders.

    They will never again be employable. They are listed on registries. In my community there is a channel on local tv that does nothing but switch through the mugshots of the 'perverts' all day long.

    The thing is, there is nothing perverted about one individual physically ripe for having brats being attracted to another. That is how nature intended it to work.

    Are they mentally mature? Possibly not. But making poor choices in sexual partners is something they will do all their lives anyway. The rest can be cured with birth control and sexual education.

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